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RESISTER: Empowering Diversity, Amplifying Talent, and Laughing in the Face of Adversity


LBB’s Tará McKerr sits down with co-founders, Hollie Hutton and Hannah Charman to find out more about the first music supervision agency to give female and gender minority composers, artists, producers and sound designers a place to call home

RESISTER: Empowering Diversity, Amplifying Talent, and Laughing in the Face of Adversity



1. to stand firm (against); not yield (to); fight (against)

-Collins English Dictionary

Co-founders Hannah Charman and Hollie Hutton are a juggernaut of a team. There’s something plainly special about seeing two women in their element. That’s especially true when you see that they are not only co-workers, but pals, and supporters of one-another. It took a while to pin them down for an interview because they were in the midst of shaking up their house — ‘Sister Music’ was undergoing a rigorous reshuffle. They had decided to sit down and take stock of their mission cupboard — one that had served them well to date — and ask, “what’s next?”. They decided it could be broader, and that they could do more. They wanted to cast their net farther and wider. 

That’s how ‘RESISTER’ was born. 

Hollie, who led the creative side of the rebrand told us, “we had a clear vision of what we wanted to achieve. We wanted to be bolder with our mission. Louder. We wanted it to feel more determined.” 

But the genesis started long before. Hollie’s love for music has been ever-present, starting with singing and songwriting as a kid. Knowing she was going to write music into her life she put all of her efforts into making sure that became a reality. Starting out at a music library, she honed her skills for a few years before joining a Chicago-based agency and working her way up to creative director of the UK and European team. Most of her experience has been in commissioning bespoke music, and she admits that is really where her passion lies. Obsessed with the creative side of things, she joined Chord as part of the advertising team where she worked her way up to running the team as ECD. As fate would have it, that’s where she’d meet Hannah, the woman who would become her partner in crime. 

For Hannah, she worked as a gallery producer in live TV for around eight years before breaking into music. After taking a course in music business, she became interested in publishing, exploitation, and synchronisation. An internship at a publishers whilst still working in TV landed her a job at Sony in their sync department, followed by stints with various music publishers before arriving at Chord. Working across award winning brand partnership campaigns and starting their TV department.


When they met, discussions unveiled mutual experiences and common truths. They had both been witness to the same pattern repeating on loop for as long as they’d been in the industry: music agencies were choosing the same names over and over when it came to bespoke pitches in songwriting and production. Hollie explains, “we wanted to do something different; to create a space for female artists and gender minorities, and see if we could build something more representative of the kind of industry we want to be in. That passion drove everything.” 

Setting up shop in January 2020 — just before lockdown opened its mouth and swallowed the world — wasn’t actually as ill-fated as it initially seemed. As a result, the pair were afforded the opportunity to have all-consuming chats that the regular pace of society doesn’t always allow for. It enabled them to cement their vision; deciding that the cracks they were seeing needed to be addressed intellectually, and solved as the problems they are. “It allowed us to fast track our mission and get it to the forefront of our production much quicker than it might have taken if we didn’t have that opportunity” says Hollie. 

During that time, they met virtually with an array of emerging artists, who they were determined to showcase. So they set up a label to showcase this talent; there are now four albums released which spotlight these artists/composers, three of which were released during lockdown. Within the first two months of the initial release, the success was measurable, with two tracks placed in The Body Shop's Christmas campaign, and many more in a TV show that Hannah had been supervising. 

Colliding in Harmony 

But what exactly is it that RESISTER does? We asked the pair how they go about explaining it to their mothers at Christmas dinner. Hannah describes RESISTER as curated go-betweens for content creators and the music industry. She elaborates: “a lot of people don’t understand the thought process or the work that goes into creating, choosing, or licensing music for media. So all kinds of knowledge and experience comes with how to produce, how to create music, how to score it etc.” She explains that a lot of content creators know what they want in the sense of having a vision. But they don’t know how to articulate it, meaning they can’t find the right music. And if they can find the right music, they don’t know how to procure it. “We sit in the middle making sure those worlds collide in a way that is harmonious and perfect” says Hannah.

There’s an element of harmony that extends to the way that Hannah and Hollie interact with one another. When one speaks, the other listens intently in kind deference. There’s a certain synergism about them that provides some insight into why they’ve come so far as a business in only three years. 

For Hollie, the team at RESISTER are both facilitators and creators, “it's all about ensuring the music enables authenticity. For example, when there is a story to be told , we try to find an artist that shares that history, is from the region, or has a real connection to it.” Pairing story with music is an artform in and of itself and an integral part to the telling of any narrative. When this truth is known and appreciated, the magic begins to happen, and there is justice done to the piece. 

An unfolding motif begins to emerge the longer you chat to these two. They are hellbent on enabling authenticity. Because that’s what it all boils down to. That’s why representation of women and gender minorities matters; because what is closer to true, authentic expression than that which is crafted by the full tapestry of humanity rather than a few homogeneous threads? They’re doing more than ensuring these talents are weaved in, they’re making damn sure they have a great time along the way. 

An Act of Resistance 

When asked about what they’re working on, you witness a complete shift in their entire persona. It’s as if someone switched on a light. 

They tell us about their recent work finishing production on Magic Mike’s Last Dance, where they cleared all of the music, just like they did for The Batman, as well as their assisted supervision on the latest Matrix film. We hear from Hannah about their work on a BBC drama where the story was localised to a part of the UK: “We sought out up and coming bands and artists from a specific area to work and contribute music to the show. It’s incredible when you find a band that plays gigs every Friday night for no money and then all of a sudden they're doing a song for a TV show based in their own town. It makes people's days. You get to show them a way to further their career, and all they need to know about royalties, and all the fun that comes from making music for media”. 

Phoenix Rise is set in the midlands and addresses all sorts of socio economic issues, as well as mental health and race. Sourcing artists was a highlight for Hannah, landing a composer who’s personal experience as a member of the LGBTQ community was able to add authenticity to the work. “It’s just a whole bunch of warm and fuzzy that’s wrapped up in one project” she says. 

We learn from Hollie about their work on the ‘Seeing Red’ campaign from Adam&EveDDB. The campaign begins with a trigger warning: ‘This film has been designed to provoke anger’ and by God, is that goal fulfilled. It made for a truly exciting music brief, she tells us: “Most of the time in advertising, you’re trying to make people happy. But this time it was our job to make people angry, which is why the music really resonated with people. It was super outside of the box, dark and industrial. It was a real rallying cry to get people thinking about period poverty.”

A real yet unexpected standout for Hollie however has been their work with the kids toys company, Tonies. Over the past few years the team have been tasked with creating over one hundred kids songs for their Toniebox’ — an audio player for children. This included a bespoke song for pride which she beams about: “ We were asked to commission a bespoke song that aims to educate kids about Pride but from a young person's standpoint. So we wrote a song about the colours of the rainbow and everyone living together in harmony.” It’s a really cute, fun track but with a really strong important message. But it’s observing the real world impact of this kind of work that makes all the difference: “Seeing kids happy and dancing and excited about what you’re creating is just incredible. You know, it's just really nice to see that stuff spread joy. I think a lot of people show more of the cooler side of their work, but we actually love working on kids productions. Seeing children happy and affected by what you’ve created is just incredible”. 

Sometimes the greatest act of resistance is to laugh in the face of adversity; to do incredibly meaningful work, the stuff that makes you smile. RESISTER is doing just that. 

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RESISTER, Thu, 25 May 2023 16:07:00 GMT